Wednesday, February 17

Garden Pic Wednesday: The Squatter

The definition of "Squatter," is someone who takes up residence in a home or property they do not legally own, without authority or permission to do so.

The Case:
Last spring I remodeled this old, dilapidated bat-house into a nice nesting box suitable for a medium bird, such as a wood-pecker. I designed it with a hinged wood flap on the bottom that's wired shut on one-side, so I could open it later in the year and clean it out.
Being it's for wood peckers, I had also added a generous amount of wood-shavings, so they wouldn't tear up the box making a nest.


Birds here in the Deep South, seem to have long nesting seasons, so I didn't do anything about emptying it until the end of January.
So, Hubby got out the step later for me and I dutifully climbed up to drop the hatch, empty it and refill it with fresh shavings for this season.
I lowered the hatch slowly and discovered and unexpected resident!

The Squatter:
As I lowered the hatch-door, I saw a tail & a leg, then dropped the door completely, so all the nesting material fell out along with one of these:
A Southern Flying Squirrel

She leaped to the maple tree trunk, then ran up to peer down at us with huge black eyes.
I didn't even know any were around here. I'd never seen any, but, they are a nocturnal squirrel. I'm usually asleep when they're active.
They have a long finely furred tail, that's completely flat, which is what made me suspect this was a flying squirrel.
I refilled the nesting box with shavings and as soon as we were out of sight, of course, she moved right back in.
After this, I did a little on-line research both to confirm it was, indeed, a Southern Flying Squirrel and find out more about them. What I read made me decide I wasn't going to let her reproduce in my bird nesting box and create a whole colony of these voracious little eaters! Don't be fooled by their cuteness. They're an  omnivore, meaning they will not only eat berries, nuts, leaves, bark & seeds, but also carrion, insects, bird eggs and even baby birds. 
And I thought ordinary squirrels were pest enough.
Luckily, she hadn't had any babies yet, though I'm quite sure she was thinking that was going to be a fine place to do so. The Southern Flying Squirrels reproduce twice a year, with Feb/Mar being the first season plus they are known to forage & fly in groups.
Nope. Don't want a ton of those in my yard.

How to Get Rid of A Flying Squirrel In A Bird Nesting Box:
Moth balls. 
I got up the ladder again, knocked on the nesting box to shoo her out, then tossed 4 or 5 moth balls in. 
She never came back.
My neighborhood is heavily wooded. I'm sure she'll find suitable new real estate elsewhere.
****
Now I know, come winter this year, that I need to throw a couple moth balls in there just keep out the nocturnal squatters!

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